Physical Behavior of Materials

This research area supports basic research on the behavior of materials in response to external stimuli, such as temperature, electromagnetic fields, chemical environments, and the proximity effects of surfaces and interfaces. Emphasis is on the relationships between performance (such as electrical, magnetic, optical, electrochemical, and thermal performance) and the microstructure and defects in the material. Included within the research area are research to establish the relationship of crystal defects to semiconducting, superconducting, and magnetic properties; phase equilibria and kinetics of reactions in materials in hostile environments; and diffusion and transport phenomena. Basic research is also supported to develop new instrumentation, including in situ experimental tools, and to probe the physical behavior in real environments encountered in energy applications. Capital equipment funding is provided for items such as physical property measurement tools that include spectroscopic and analytical instruments for chemical and electrochemical analysis.

The research supported by this research area is necessary for improving materials reliability in chemical, electrical, and electrochemical applications and for improving the ability to generate and store energy in materials. Materials in energy-relevant environments are increasingly being exposed to extreme temperatures, strong magnetic fields, and hostile chemical conditions. A detailed understanding of how materials behavior is linked to the surroundings and treatment history is critical to the understanding of corrosion, photovoltaics, fast-ion conducting electrolytes for batteries and fuel cells, novel magnetic materials for low magnetic loss power generation, magnetocaloric materials for high-efficiency refrigeration, and new materials for high-temperature gasification.

To obtain more information about this research area, please see our Core Research Area descriptions and the proceedings of our Principal Investigators' Meetings. To better understand how this research area fits within the Department of Energy's Office of Science, please refer to the Basic Energy Science's organization chart and budget request.

For more information about this research area, please contact Dr. Refik Kortan or Dr. Athena Sefat .